UNHCR, WFP chiefs due in Ethiopia

Monday, March 31, 2014

ADDIS ABABA – United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) chief Antonio Guterres and World Food Program (WFP) chief Ertharin Cousin are both slated to visit Ethiopia on Tuesday to assess the situation of South Sudanese refugees there, a spokesman for the UNHCR's Ethiopia office said Monday.

According to spokesman Kisut Gebregziabher, the two officials have already arrived in South Sudanese capital Juba, from where they are expected to travel to Ethiopia.

While in Ethiopia, the pair is scheduled to visit the Gambella region, which is home to two newly-established refugee camps – both of which now teem with South Sudanese refugees.

"They will travel to Gambella on Wednesday, look at the situation of South Sudan refugees there, and travel to Addis Ababa and give press briefing," Gebregziabher said.

Earlier this month, resident ambassadors and UN officials visited the two new camps in Gambella and reported their observations on the situation there to their respective governments.

Last week, the UNHCR appealed for $371 million in immediate relief for refugees who have fled war-torn South Sudan.

South Sudan has been shaken by violence since last December, when President Salva Kiir accused his sacked vice president, Riek Machar, of attempting to overthrow his regime.

The conflict has already claimed more than 10,000 lives, with the UN estimating that some 3.7 million people in South Sudan are now "severely food insecure" while around one million have been displaced by the violence.

Of the latter, over 81,000 have crossed the border into next-door Ethiopia.

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